Top Tickets: November 28-Dec. 4
Diablo’s can’t-miss events of the coming week: holiday ballets, tree lightings, snow frolics, teddy bear teas, and opportunities for Santa sightings.
The Story of the Nutcracker / photo by Marty Sohl
It would be very tempting to go on a spree of holiday frolicking in the coming days. All our communities offer a variety of ways of lift you out of your worst Scrooge mood and into a suspended state of joy, gratitude, and a hot chocolate– and gingerbread-fueled sugar rush. Just check out the list below.
I also wanted to mention two notable non-holiday events. The first is Bruce Springsteen’s swing through the Oracle Arena this Friday. In a lot of ways, what more can I add? He’s the boss. He’s here, and he’s been pretty much everywhere the past year, not just with the E Street Band and their Wrecking Ball tour but stumping for President Obama, raising money for victims of Hurricane Sandy, and as the subject of a 19-page profile in The New Yorker and the meticulously reported new biography Bruce. For tickets for the show, go to coliseum.com.
Meanwhile, the theater students at Diablo Valley College have been seriously raising their game this past season with adventurous choices in productions. The latest example offers a harrowing portrait of an American criminal justice system gone wrong. Opening Friday, The Exonerated tells the true stories of six people sent to Death Row for crimes they did not commit. The 90-minute play is culled from interviews, letters, transcripts, case files, and the public record and moves between first-person monologues to scenes set in courtrooms and prisons. The play continues through December 9. For more information, go to dvcdama.net.
November 28: Light Up the Night
Santa will light the 25-foot tree for the fifth annual holiday festival in downtown Pleasant Hill. Visitors can also ride in carriages, listening to caroling by College Park High students and shop for arts and crafts. Crescent Drive, downtown Pleasant Hill, 5:45 to 7:45 p.m., free, (925) 671-5229, pleasant-hill.net.
November 29: Broadway Plaza Parade of Lights
Broadway Plaza merchants welcomes shoppers before the annual parade of lights begins at 7 p.m., culminating with special guest, Santa Claus, lighting Broadway Plaza’s 40-foot tree in the promenade. Broadway Plaza, 6–9 p.m., free, (925) 939-7601, broadwayplaza.com.
November 29 and December 1: Dublin Tree Lighting and Holiday Faire
The spirit of the season sweeps through Dublin with the lighting of the town’s community tree at Dublin Civic Center on Thursday evening. On Saturday, check out traditional holiday crafts and listen to holiday favorites performed by the Merrie Old Christmas Carolers at the Holiday Faire. Tree lighting: Thursday, Dublin Civic Center, 100 Civic Plaza, 7–8:30 p.m., free; Holiday Faire: Saturday, noon to 6 p.m., Heritage Park and Museums, free admission, $5 for craft making and wagon ride, ci.dublin.ca.us.
November 29–December 1: Story of the Nutcracker
If your children haven’t seen The Nutcracker or are still too young to sit through a full-length version, Contra Costa Ballet’s unique, hour-long production is the perfect way to start a family tradition. It covers all the highlights of the classic story of Clara, Herr Drosselmeyer, and the Sugar Plum Fairy. Lesher Center for the Arts, 1601 Civic Drive, Walnut Creek, $23–$33, (925) 943-7469, lesherartscenter.org.
November 29–December 16: It’s a Wonderful Life
“Zuzu’s Petals” is the topic of doctoral dissertations and the title of blogs by post-feminist writers. The term originates from a very magical moment in one of the America’s most famous Christmas stories, when regular guy George Bailey realizes he’s back home with his family and his life has been pretty wonderful after all. Lafayette’s Town Hall Theatre Company presents a stage adaptation of Frank Capra’s classic 1947 film. Lafayette Town Hall Theatre, 3535 School St., Lafayette, $12–$32, (925) 283-1557, townhalltheatre.com.
November 30–December 2: Martinez Holiday Frolic and Snow Park
Downtown Martinez goes full yuletide, with an elves workshop, lighting of the “spirit tree,” and the Children’s Light Parade. Visitors can skate at the downtown rink on Main Street and play in the snow park in the Main Street Plaza through Sunday. Holiday Frolic: 3–9 p.m. Friday, Snow Park: 10 a.m.–5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Downtown Martinez, free, (925) 372-3510, cityofmartinez.org.
November 30: Handel’s Messiah
The Pacific Chamber Symphony, the resident professional company at Livermore’s Bankhead Theater, presents an intimate performance of Handel’s Messiah, featuring distinguished soloists, the Las Positas College Chamber Choir, and the Pacific Chamber Symphony chorus. Bankhead Theater, 2400 First St., Livermore, 8 p.m., $7–$45, (925) 373-6800, pacificchambersymphony.org.
November 30: Miracle on 34th Street
Maybe he’s delusional or maybe he really is Santa Claus. Kris Kringle certainly has the twinkle in his eye and a way of making a believer out of the most hard-hearted cynic. The Paramount Theatre presents the movie classic that made a star out of a very young Natalie Wood. Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland, 8 p.m., $5, 510-893-2300 paramounttheatre.com.
December 1: Home for the Holidays
Kick off the shopping season in downtown Livermore with an afternoon of horse-drawn carriage rides, musical performances, and snow in Lizzie Fountain. Downtown Livermore, 12– 4 p.m., free, livermoredowntown.com.
December 1: Pleasanton Hometown Holiday Parade
Santa Claus will make a stop in downtown Pleasanton for a late afternoon celebration that features a parade of floats, a community sing-a-long, and a tree-lighting ceremony. Downtown Pleasanton, 3:30–7:30 p.m., free, (925) 931-5352, pleasantondowntown.net.
December 1: Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir
The multi-racial, interfaith group performs traditional and contemporary black gospel music and spirituals throughout the Bay Area. For its 27th annual holiday concert, the choir, led by Artistic Director Terrance Kelly, will collect coats for children, women, and men to donate to the East Bay Community Project. Paramount Theatre, 2025 Broadway, Oakland, 7:30 p.m., $12–$47, (510) 893-2300, paramounttheatre.com.
December 1: Livermore-Amador Symphony 50th Anniversary
The Livermore Valley–based community orchestra presents its Celebrating 50 Season concert, featuring Brahms Symphony No. 1 and Brahms Violin Concerto, performed with soloist Stuart Canin. Bankhead Theater, 2400 First St., Livermore, 8 p.m., $40–$94, (925) 373-6800, livamsymph.org.
December 1–2: Teddy Bear Tea
Children are invited to bring their favorite stuffed animal companions and enjoy special treats and stories in the elegant setting of the Gardens at Heather Farm Park. Space is still available for the 2 p.m. sittings on both days. The Gardens at Heather Farm, 1540 Marchbanks Drive, Walnut Creek, $15–$25, (925) 947-1678, gardenshf.org.
December 1–2: Holidays in the Vineyards
One of California’s oldest wine-growing regions now features some 50 wineries producing award-winning wines. For the holidays, Livermore Valley wineries showcase their tasting rooms with arts and crafts vendors, carolers, and special festive activities. Visit the Livermore Valley Winegrowers website for locations and events at each winery, lvwine.org.
December 1 and 8: Holidays on the Farm
Two of Santa’s reindeer will make a special visit to San Ramon’s Forest Home Farms Historic Park the first two Saturdays in December. The park hosts an old-fashioned holiday celebration with Victorian ornament making, games, tractor rides and tours of the farm and the David Glass House Museum. Forest Home Farms, 19953 San Ramon Valley Blvd., San Ramon, 10 a.m.—2 p.m., free admission, tours $5–$8, (925) 973-3284, srhf.org.
For even more events happening this week, or to submit an event for consideration, visit Diablo’s Community Calendar. Follow Diablo on Twitter or Facebook (links below), and you'll be notified as soon as Top Tickets posts each Wednesday morning.